Global crude oil prices have fallen following an increase in refined product inventories in the US, contrary to market expectations of a further decline in stocks.
The rise in inventories is now being attributed to a lacklustre demand, even as American firms are scaling up production to reduce dependence on imports and to meet domestic demand.
Brent crude futures LCOc1 fell 24 cents, or 0.4%, trading at $62.62 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures dipped 25 cents, or 0.4%, trading at $57.37 a barrel, according to Reuters. LCOc1 is the international benchmark for oil prices.
The drop in prices comes after the American Petroleum Institute (API) released a report that highlighted a 9.2 million barrel rise in gasoline stocks and an increase of 4.3 million barrels in distillate inventories in the week ended 1 December.
Meanwhile, analysts suggested that the recent agreement reached by OPEC and other producers, including Russia, to extend the existing production cuts to the end of next year has allowed Brent prices to increase by more than 40% since June.
According to the news agency, Bank of America Merrill Lynch stated in its 2018 outlook: “Robust global demand and tight supplies should see Brent crude oil rise to $70 per barrel by mid-year (2018).”
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US production has risen by 15% to 9.68 million barrels a day since the levels of mid-2016, posing a challenge to continuing efforts by the OPEC and other producers to boost oil prices.